The US government has failed in its bid to have Australian citizen Julian Assange moved from the UK to the USA to face multiple charges, which could have led to a maximum sentence of 170 years in prison.
Citizen journalist Subject Access streamed proceedings outside the Old Bailey on YouTube.
Many people defied rules relating to COVID gatherings to be present outside the court, in the hope that Julian Assange would be released on bail.
While Judge Vanessa Baraitser did not accept defence arguments that his trial was politically motivated, and accepted virtually all of the allegations of the US government as reasonable, she said that Julian Assange was at serious risk of suicide if he was moved into the American prison system, due to his individual mental health situation.
Her decision does nothing to protect other journalists and publishers from publishing classified material on a public interest basis.
The director of international campaigns for Reporters Without Borders, Rebecca Vincent, who has monitored the extradition proceedings since they started, spoke to media outside the court.
‘We disagree with the judge’s assessment that this case is not politically motivated, that it is not about free speech,’ she said.
‘We continue to believe that Mr Assange was targeted for his contributions to journalism, and until the underlying issues here are addressed, other journalists, sources and publishers remain at risk,’ said Ms Vincent.
In 2010 WikiLeaks burst into global prominence when it showed a leaked video of the US military gunning down multiple civilians in Bahgdad.
The organisation then released thousands of US military messages and cables, along with other documents embarrassing to governments around the world.
The US government has submitted an appeal with the High Court of Justice, and Mr Assange’s legal team will make a case for bail on Wednesday. Until then, Julian Assange remains in Belmarsh prison in the UK, which is reportedly a COVID-19 hotspot.
Stella paraphrases Reagan
Julian Assange’s fiancee Stella Morris made a direct plea to Donald Trump following the ruling.
‘I call on the President of the United States to end this now: Mr President, tear down these prison walls, let our little boys have their father,’ she said.
‘Free Julian, free the press, free us all.’
Mexico’s President Andrew Manuel Lopez Obrador has said he will offer Julian Assange political asylum.
On 3AW this morning, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Julian Assange would be free to return to Australia if charges were dropped.
Geoffrey Robertson QC told Radio National today that Mr Morrison and his colleagues could be doing much more to lobby for Mr Assange’s release. ‘The Australian government should ratchet up their support from the occasional consular visit up to the diplomatic level,’ he said.